We’ve all been in pain. We’ve all experienced trauma. No one is exempt. (Yes REM, “Everybody hurts”)
And sometimes, everybody cries.
Yet, for as long as I can remember, I’ve hated my tears! I have tortured myself with self-criticism; “I’m so fed up with my stupid crying”, “I HATE that I’m always crying so much”, “For goodness sake Catherine, just get over it!” The shame forced me to control them. To stuff them down. To somehow turn them off. To be stronger.
“Pull yourself together woman. It’s so much worse for someone else…” (True, but in constantly devaluing how I was feeling, I failed to recognize that my pain was real, and worth listening to).
I have judged myself. I have despised my waterfalls. But slowly (after 35 years of professional crying), I’m learning to embrace the precious gift of tears. And I’m learning that God Himself created them ON PURPOSE. He designed them so we could release what cannot be expressed with words.
A few weeks ago I was doing my “complaining-about-crying” routine. God interrupted my thoughts with a question, “Why do you despise your tears? Why do you hate being known as the one who is always crying? Who told you it was wrong? Something to be ashamed of? Something to hide? Not me. Give yourself permission to feel, to cry, to weep. Embrace the tears, for crying is my gift to you – my gift of release, my gift of healing!”
God shared with me the purpose of tears and gave me permission to release my pain. He’s such a good Father.
Here’s a thought, If we didn’t need to cry, why would the option even be available? Experts have proven that tears are good medicine for the healing of our souls and our bodies. Studies have found that “Having a good cry” is the body’s way or ridding itself of the toxins and waste products built up in the body during times of elevated stress. One study compared reflex tears and emotional tears (after peeling an onion and watching a sad movie, respectively). When scientists analyzed the content of the tears, they found each type was very different. Reflex tears are generally found to be about 98 percent water, whereas several chemicals are commonly present in emotional tears, including Adrenocorticotropic hormones which indicate high stress levels, and leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve mood (A natural pain-killer).
Other research indicates that stifling emotional tears can cause an elevated risk of heart disease and hypertension. And psychologists recommend that people suffering from grief express their emotions through talking and crying, rather than keeping their emotions in check – for the overall benefit of their health and healing.
Crying is a critical part of the human emotional makeup, just as laughing is. While you may not want to cry in front of your family, your scary boss, or your ex-boyfriend who’s at the mall with his beautiful new girlfriend, it is better, both emotionally and physically, to “let it out” rather than keep it all inside.
When I was young I was told not to, “turn on the taps” (unless I’d physically hurt myself). And all those years of shoving down those tears, putting a lid on them, keeping things quiet, and pretending all was well, took quite a large toll. All the emotions I stuffed down turned hard like rock. They then turned into the bricks that I used to build walls of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. I chose to hold it all in and to keep it together like a “good girl”. But that was the wrong choice! The lid has to come off! We’ve got to let our emotions out, no matter how long it takes. Just like a good fart – it’s always better out than in.
Since giving myself permission to let the tears flow, I can see how crying is part of my healing, and let’s face it, we all need healing (so we probably all need a good cry).
Tears are not a sign of weakness. And even if they were, who said we have to be strong and be able to handle it all on our own anyway? God certainly didn’t. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12.9 tells of how The Lord said to him “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul decided to celebrate that and wrote, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
THERE IS INDEED POWER IN WEAKNESS, so even if you’re sitting there reading this, still convinced that crying is weakness, well, just go ahead and embrace that weakness anyway! Be truly powerful.
(Important side note: The whole “Big boys don’t cry” – what a pile of rubbish – my Dad cries and so does my husband, and that’s one of my favorite things about both of them. It shows us girls, that boys indeed have soft hearts)
King David (A big boy himself) knew the God of all comfort. He wrote a song that said,
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56.8
Let’s run to God, the one with ALL the answers, the one who collects our tears in a bottle and keeps them in His book. We must be important if He “bothers” doing that.
Think about it, He doesn’t even let them fall to the ground – hello! – He’s saves them BECAUSE THEY MATTER TO HIM – they are a part of you, so they are important to Him. He was there when you wept in the shower, so no one could hear you. He was there when you cried yourself to sleep and left mascara on the pillow. He was there when you hid in fear, with no-one to turn to… and the only thing you could do was weep. He is always there, and He cares enough to keep every tear that has flowed from your eyes. Why? Because He loves you. And in His book, that I imagine He likes to pick up and read – your tears are there – they are part of the script of your acceptance.
How about we approach Jesus with our pain? Let’s accept his invitation to, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS” Matthew 11.28
Join me in the journey of embracing our tears. I wish I’d “got this” earlier and not lived for so long pushing them down. I guarantee you that letting them do their job will help you heal.
I dare you to let the healing river of your soul flow. And let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.
This is The Purpose Of Tears – Part 1. I will write more on how people in Scripture dealt with their sorrows and how we can help others in their weeping. But for now, whether you’re a crier or not, I bless you not to judge your feelings, but instead, to embrace them. I bless you to bring your heart – just as it is right now – to Jesus your healer. To give Him all the pain, and all the burdens. I bless you to accept your emotions (the good the bad and the downright ugly). I speak a full release over your emotions today. And I bless you to give yourself permission so your tears can come fully out of hiding.
God’s bottle is ready for them.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Psalm 126:5